"Look, Mom. There's a piece of a rainbow in the sky."
"That's not a rainbow. That's a contrail."
"What's a contrail?"
"It's ice crystals left in the atmosphere when jets pass by. You know, those white trails."
"NO! I'm not talking about that. Over HERE! Look."
And, by damn, there it was: a small piece of a rainbow in the sky, peeking through the clouds over the dry cleaners.
I saw this written on a plaque once, attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, though God knows if he really did say it: "Life is full of wondrous things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper." To which I would add, "Or have kids." Mine regularly point out things I would have missed, usually because I am in some furious rush to get them to school or to the doctor's appointment or whatever. Both my daughters have this habit of loitering on the threshold of whatever door they're going through, and I think it's because they are so busy sussing out the view--until I come up behind them: "Hurry UP, get MOVING, we gotta GO." When I am sitting in the old folks' home, staring at my liver spots and waiting for the attendants to change my diaper, I'm not going to remember the pediatrician's appointments we made on time (which we never do anyway), but I probably will remember the piece of the rainbow I saw in the sky over the dry cleaner's. So here you're saying to yourself, Oh yeah, she's gonna say we should stop and smell the roses--but no: I'm not. I mean, I try to, from time to time, but the reality is I'm a driven person. I am not about to become some blissed out Buddha luxuriating in the Transcendental Moment, and if I didn't push my kids' rear ends out the door every day they'd be standing there blowin' smoke rings while the Harvard Class of 2017 went on to hold commencement ceremonies without them. Life is a precarious balance between the mundane imperative and the need for transcendence, and I see no easy way of reconciling these two needs.
It is good, however, to have a five-year-old passenger in the back of the minivan who will, occasionally, point the transcendental out to you. And to say later, "We were the only ones who saw that, Mom, isn't that cool?" Yes. Yes, it is.